Since becoming an author and a blogger I look at the world and human society in a different way. I have become more of an observer, I think about it more. If I’m going to write about it, I have to. Then, being a science fiction author I tend towards wondering what this might mean for the future, and in this case wondering what any aliens studying the human race would think of us. Right now I imagine them thinking we are a rather contrary and contradictory species.
What leads me (and them) to this view is the big debate we in the UK are having as to whether we will stay part of the European Union or not. I’m not taking sides, I’m just interested in how/why we make these choices, what it says about our society, ourselves, and what that means for our future. In my last blog I pondered that a thousand years in the future people might look back at the twenty first century as the first global society (for good or bad). But it seems that the more we move to that state the more we are inclined to hang on to our old tribal beliefs and alliances. The more we (possibly for economic reasons) break down barriers the more we seem intent on hanging on to others. Suddenly ‘sovereignty’ and being in charge of ‘our own destiny’ become important. We see further integration as threatening and so retreat behind the cultural tribal earthworks we know best, in this case our country. There we know who ‘we’ are and, despite all the economic arguments, that somehow makes us feel safer (in the broadest sense), or that we belong?
To complicate things, and add to our contrariness further, the debate raises the issue of Scottish independence again i.e. if England vote to leave and Scotland to stay in the EU that could trigger another referendum for independence (although no-one seems to be thinking what would happen if it was the other way round?). What would aliens make of that? Without taking sides on the independence debate this, on the surface, seems totally contradictory. Scotland jump out of the frying pan of the United Kingdom and into the fire that is Europe? Having fought for their independence they then cede some of that to a European state that wants ever closer fiscal and political integration of its members. They then become an even smaller country in an even larger group, where their voice is less likely to be heard (one of the main complaints about being in the UK). It confuses me, so heaven help any alien trying to make sense of it all. Perhaps that’s the problem with a political party with one main focus? What you are against (in this case the UK) can easily become more important than what you are for (a topic for a future debate?).
So, yes, as that alien I am thoroughly confused. The more the world looks like one global society the more we want to retreat behind tribal interests. Perhaps, as individuals we just feel lost, insignificant, without a voice. Perhaps that’s why we love forming clubs, groups, support teams. We feel, safer, happier in smaller groups of ‘like-minded’ people. The bigger a group gets the less we feel connected to it, to the point where no matter what the logic is, we say no more.
One thing, observing this as a science fiction writer, I feel that in my futures the (perhaps lazy and convenient) idea of a world government, or a confederation of planets is highly unlikely to happen. So perhaps I need to think again about the worlds I create